Microsoft, Epic, and Unity withdraw from GDC

Microsoft, Epic Games, and Unity Technologies have all confirmed they will not be attending GDC.

“After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco,” Microsoft said on its developer blog. “The health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority. Especially as the world is experiencing growing public health risks associated with coronavirus.”

“Here at Epic we were excited about participating in GDC 2020,” Epic said when it too confirmed it was withdrawing from the show. “Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance.”

Unity has also confirmed it’s pulling out of GDC 2020.

“Unfortunately, this year, after much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to pull out of GDC 2020,” CEO John Riccitiello stated in an official update. “While we did not make this decision lightly, the current conditions with COVID-19 (also known as Novel Coronavirus) present too much risk. We take our employees’ wellbeing very seriously. We do not want any Unity employee, partner, community member or developer to compromise their health and safety unnecessarily.

“We’re advising all employees to refrain from traveling to GDC. We will no longer have a physical presence with a booth, but will instead showcase the great GDC content we’ve been working towards online. Expect more details in the coming weeks. The Game Developers Conference has always done a fantastic job in uniting the games industry. We look forward to showing our support at next year’s event.”

Kojima Productions, Sony, EA, and Facebook – which owns Oculus – also recently pulled out of GDC, whilst other developers have confirmed they have had to revise their PAX East plans, too. Consequently, Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston – which is the US city that hosts PAX East – sent a letter to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida stating that the decision to pull out of the convention only served to reinforce “harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle”, stating it was going ahead with the show in order to “dispel these harmful and misguided fears”.

Even though the city of San Francisco – the city set to host the upcoming GDC conference next month – has now declared a “local health emergency” over coronavirus, at the time of writing the event, which is scheduled to run next month, is still going ahead. Organisers say “based on the strict U.S. quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are confident we can execute a safe and successful event for our community”. 

A new statement from the organisers said: “We’ve recently learned of the additional preventative measures instituted by the City Of San Francisco around COVID19. Locally, the California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco Travel Association continue to support the convening of public events, and we are moving forward as planned. More information can be found in the updated SFTA letter to GDC attendees.”

The world’s biggest mobile phone show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), was cancelled after organiser GSMA said that fears concerning the coronavirus outbreak made it “impossible” for the event to proceed.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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